Joint winner of the 2000 Miles Franklin Literary Award
In her flat above Drylands’ newsagency, Janet Deakin is writing a book for the world’s last reader. Little has changed here in 50 years, except for the coming of cable TV. Loneliness is almost a religion, and still everyone knows your business. The town is being outmanoeuvred by drought and begins to empty, pouring itself out like water into sand. Small minds shrink even smaller in the vastness of the land. One man is forced out by council rates and bigotry; another sells his property, risking the lot to build his dream. And all of them are shadowed by violence of some sort – these people whose only victory over the town is in leaving it.
“Drylands is a wake-up call for millennial Australia… Astley’s brilliance rests not only in her distinctive prose style but her willingness and courage to make social statements, to assemble portraits of pain as a bridge to compassion.” The Bulletin
Thea Astley was one of Australia's most respected and acclaimed novelists. Born in Brisbane in 1925, Astley studied arts at the University of Queensland. She held a position as Fellow in Australian Literature at Macquarie University until 1980, when she retired to write full time. In 1989 she was granted an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Queensland.
She won the Miles Franklin Award four times - in 1962 for The Well Dressed Explorer, in 1965 for The Slow Natives, in 1972 for The Acolyte and in 2000 for Drylands. In 1989 she was award the Patrick White Award. Other awards include 1975 The Age Book of the Year Award for A Kindness Cup, the 1980 James Cook Foundation of Australian Literature Studies Award for Hunting the Wild Pineapple, the 1986 ALS Gold Medal for Beachmasters, the 1988 Steele Rudd Award for It's Raining in Mango, the 1990 NSW Premier's Prize for Reaching Tin River, and the 1996 Age Book of the Year Award and the FAW Australian Unity Award for The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow.
'Beyond all the satire, the wit, the occasional cruelty, and the constant compassion, the unfailing attribute of Astley's work is panache' Australian Book Review